Agri-business has starring role in meeting Asian food demand

The annual Toowoomba Ag Show has proved to be more than just a tractor and machinery display and has become a catalyst for businesses in the region to cash-in on the next big “boom”.

According to Wiley Senior Process Engineer and Ag Show speaker Michael Matthewson, the next big boom for the region will be agri-business and supplying the global demand for fresh food.

He said Asia was well on its way to becoming the centre for global economic activity and would lead the global demand for food.

“According to the stats, the Asian middle class will increase six-fold to 3.2 billion people in the next 15 years and combined with the new consumer trends in food, the demand for high quality produce and packaged food is going to outstrip supply.”

“Australia and in particular the Toowomba/ Surat Basin area is well placed to ride this wave because Asia perceives Australia as a clean, safe and reliable food producer.”

Mr Matthewson (pictured above) gave a two-hour presentation on food production opportunities at the Ag Show on Tuesday and as a result, was asked to present a second time on Wednesday after the Toowoomba & Surat Basin (TSBE) Agribusiness Innovator’s lunch with Queensland’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Hon John McVeigh.

TSBE Projects Manager for Agriculture, Ms Jo Sheppard said the involvement of capable companies such as Wiley & Co was a great opportunity for international experience and knowledge to be shared locally.

“It was fantastic for local food and agribusiness operators in the region to have the opportunity to hear from a global leader, first-hand, some of the cutting edge technology happening in the sector not only around the world, but also here on our doorstep” Ms Sheppard said.

Mr Matthewson’s presentation on the opportunities for progressive primary and secondary production and processing entities, also struck a chord with some major producers in the region and a Korean delegation using the Ag Show as a case study.

“There are some very exciting opportunities that are going to come out of this Ag Show, with the potential to collaborate closely with our Asian counterparts and explore opportunities to bring Asia to Australia and Australia to Asia.”

Mr Matthewson said his company had experience developing food processing projects in South East Asia and a track record of bringing Asian companies to Australia.

Wiley was instrumental in bringing Korean company CJ NutraCon from US to Australia and is also involved in some of the world’s most innovative food processing technologies, including the commercialisation of new Queensland technologies in the sugar cane processing sector.

“We already have some of the world’s most innovative food processing and agri-business processes right here in Toowoomba and the South East Queensland area,” Mr Matthewson said.

“The new Primo smallgoods processing facility, the Western Downs Saleyards at Dalby, as well as the AJ Bush and JBS Australia Bio-Gas recovery projects are just some of the ground breaking projects we are involved in.”

Mr Matthewson said innovations in food packaging and processing meant short life and perishable products can achieve a longer shelf life giving producers the ability to cost effectively ship fresh produce to Asia and meet their growing food demands.